The 2020 Rally that nearly didn't happen!

Chapter Organiser: 

  • National Rally
  • Submitted by Malvin Meyer
  • Photographs: Joe Pieterse, Leian Eggleton, Malvin Meyer & Yassie ZA!!

The 2020 Cape Seal Rally very nearly didn't happen! Against a backdrop of 8 months of pandemic social distancing, no-one wanted a super-spreader event that puts their own families at risk. But after much discussion and soul searching a decision was made. The organising team chose to go head for the sake of our Charity and our Harley-Davidson ® Riders.

South Africa has done well, but it was not spared.Covid-19 restrictions and the economic fallout that caused havoc across the world. Our usual Harley ® rallies in South Africa were put on hold. I know of at least four that we usually attend, and they were cancelled one after another.

The Cape Seal Rally 2020 faced the same fate. Our planning for this November rally usually starts in May, but it had to take a backseat because of lockdown. The planning committee watched as strict covid regulations were eased over time, so we started planning a rally with four different scenarios - from a  worst case (an overnighter for our H.O.G. ® members) to a best case, fully fledged signature rally!  After all we had a charity to support! And our members needed a rally and a break from lives focused on daily survival. Our event is largely outdoors and is held in the mid-summer heat away from busy cities - it seemed the best opportunity for a time-out.

During the month of September, Covid Regulations were eased to the extent that a rally of substance was possible. It was the sign we needed - the Organising Committee sprang into action - into over-drive actually - with each member accepting responsibility for the main activities and tasks that ensure a successful rally. We had less than ten weeks to make it happen!

Our Rally Registration site went live on 3 October and on the 31 October we had reached our allowed capacity (as dictated by the authorities). We closed registrations, but had a waiting list based on provisional permission from the authorities.

Our sponsors broke down the [virtual] front door and we were overwhelmed with the support given to make this rally happen. The Windsor hotel agreed to have us use the parking area at the hotel as a rally site, what a positive difference this made. Now access to the rally site could be controlled without any expense. Covid regulations/rules could now be implemented and monitored with the assistance of the hotel staff.

Now for the best part...our rally attendees came from far and wide, from Nelspruit to Ladysmith, from Pretoria, Gauteng to Knysna, George and Mosselbay, too numerous to remember. Then also the usual suspects from the Cape and behind the Boerewors*1 curtain. Friendships were re-kindled and new friendships were cemented which proved to be a buzz over the rally weekend.

The programme

The Friday evening was spent at a world class venue between the cliff faces where we were entertained by Guy Feldman, a great musician in his own right. A venue definitely worth another visit.

The Saturday morning Mass Ride was once again something to behold for both Harley riders and the public. The traffic authorities ensured the closure of roads and escorted us through the town of Hermanus to Mount Pleasant and took us past the Night Shelter Building to show the rally attendees where their contributions have been going for the past five years. This project is so very close to completion, hopefully it will be operational in the near future. This year’s mass ride with our Road Captain Big Don was special, a 90km ride through the Overberg via Caledon and the scenic Hemel and Aarde Valley to end at the Hemel and Aarde Brewery for refreshments and lunch.

Saturday evening’s Gala dinner was once again another hit and firm favourite with everyone in attendance. This year the town Executive Mayor and the Deputy-Mayor graced us with their presence. We had other dignities’ which represented Rotary International and the Hermanus Night Shelter Association. The dinner was great and was followed by an auction where the auctioneer had everyone digging deep into their pockets. Prizes and certificates for the concourse were presented. The theme was American and prizes for the best dressed were presented.

And then the party started…entertained by Black Irish right to the start of curfew.

Sunday morning: How can we depart without the usual ritual of our bikes being blessed? This year we had a new priest in Father Jerry who took the place of the charismatic Father Adrian, a duty which he just took in his stride.

We said our goodbyes to our visitors who became friends and family. They left with promises of “ We will be back next year”.

Roll on Cape Seal Rally 2021!